Last Drink of 2012 and First Meal of 2013-13 Days Late

We decided to go wild with our last drink of  2012 and bought a large bottle of ……..

Last Drink of 2012

Yes, the cashier at the grocery store even laughed at us and said it was “just terrible” that sparkling grape juice was our New Year’s eve choice of drink.

The next day started off with a commitment not to eat everything in sight and trying to eat more plant life. That commitment (which has lasted a few days so far) began with Roasted Cabbage that appeared on Pinterest.*

Roasted Cabbage-Pinterest

Roasted Cabbage-Prior to Cooking


Mine looks a little different because I wanted to use actual bacon pieces as opposed to bacon bits.  The dish was easy to make and very filling.  The packaging also helped keep the usual odiferous smell of cooking cabbage at bay.

So, out with the collards and black eye peas for New Years–cabbage and bacon are going to bring us our health and prosperity (hopefully).

*The Pinterest link didn’t take me to the recipe, so I’m not sure of the origin of the recipe.


A Hat-Trick for Christmas-Literally

Hats, of the camouflage and everyday variety, seemed to be the theme for the men this Christmas.

First Philip modeled his comfortable fleece with the signature hunting orange.

Hat Photo_2

Next Andrew gave a sweet look in his twin headpiece which will be restricted to hiking and fishing activities.

Hat Photo_3

And Daddy finished it up with his “I’m Laban the Explorer” look.

Hat Photo_1

And thus concluded the hat-trick that was Christmas.

Christmas Eve = Soup

Four years ago we went to the 1 dish dinner on Christmas Eve and these are a few reasons for Christmas Eve to stay a soup dinner in the decades to come.

1. The dishes are easy to clean up (as long as you have the dishwasher empty)

2. If you make two pots everyone is bound to be happy with one of them

3. Nothing is a better accompaniment to sourdough bread grilled cheese or all-day rain


4. All food groups can be compiled into one (these photos make the soup look a little gross but they were really delicious)

Christmas Eve-Soup

5. If doubled and everyone has eaten Christmas candy throughout the day, soup will be plentiful for days.   This would be the current situation in the Sloop/Johnson household.

And since Andrew and I never take pictures together that don’t include one of our arms holding the camera we got Kathryn to snap a pic.

Christmas Eve 2012

One additional documentation point because Kathryn did such beautiful centerpieces this year (lemons at Christmas are my new favorite)–here’s a snap of her artwork for our family’s posterity.

Lemon Centerpiece

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve 2012 Cheese Soup

1/2 c. grated carrots (I got lazy and ended up chopping these into tiny pieces)

1/2 c. chopped celery

1 onion chopped

1/4 c. butter

6 Tbsp. flour

2 c. milk

2 c. chicken broth

3/4-1 lb of Velveeta cheese diced or Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Saute onions, carrots, and celery in butter.  Stir in flour, milk, and chicken broth.  Cook over low heat until thickened, stirring constantly. Add cheese.  Stir to blend.  If it seems to thick, add a little more chicken broth or water. Simmer on low for 30 minutes to 1 hour being careful not to let the bottom burn.

Suggestions from the Sister: (1) The Cheese Soup would be fantastic in a bread bowl.  (2) A hypothesis of combining the two for a positive outcome was tested by Kathryn and determined that it could be something served at  Dos Taquitos–one of the highest compliments one can get on Christmas Eve.

The Bibliography: My Aunt Dot


Smoky Chicken Chili from Southern Living

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Starting a Holiday

With a Seaboard Cafe sandwich.

Logan's Sandwich


Grilled Tuna Salad Sandwich with Swiss Cheese and Cranberries.  

It’s That Time of the Year

Cream Cheese Braid In Progress


Cream Cheese Braids Final Product

And trying my best not to eat all of them.

What do you want for your birthday?

That’s the question I ask Andrew each birthday, but I’m usually asking about food as opposed to a gift.  For Andrew, other family members, and a few special friends I loan them my copy of Southern Cakes: Sweet and Irresistible Recipes for Everyday Celebrations by Nancie McDermott for two days and tell them to pick a cake.  The cookbook was a gift from Momma and as a complete pie girl, it has become my essential cake guide, outside of a few family recipes.

There have been quite a few picks including Helen Hudson Whiting Celestial Chocolate Cake, Sweet Potato Pound Cake, Mississippi Mud Cake, etc.  With at least 30 options, Andrew can be counted on to choose the Red Velvet Cake without fail each year.


Since trying the recipe from Southern Cakes, I haven’t even looked at another one.  This year it was even better than usual and I attribute it to the freezer. One of the Beach Bunch Mommas (more on that later) always freezes her pound cakes for a little bit after they cool completely because they are moist and less likely to dry out.  I decided to try the same with these layer cakes thought it may have been dumb luck, I’m going to say this was the trick.  After the cakes cooled completely, I wrapped them up tightly and placed them in the freezer for a day.  The morning of Andrew’s party (more on that later take 2) I took them out of the freezer to thaw and iced the cake about an hour before the party that took place that evening.

I’m usually not a huge red velvet fan, but this recipe has made me re-think my stance on RV. Maybe I’ll even choose it for my birthday cake. Maybe, but highly unlikely since I’d have to give up my pie.

The Recipe: Red Velvet Cake

The Ingredients:

2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour ( I used King Arthur’s Cake Flour–it was on sale :)

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 c. buttermilk

2 Tbsp. cocoa

One 1-oz. bottle (2 Tbsp.) red food coloring

2 c. sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 Tbsp. cider vinegar or white vinegar

The Directions:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two round cake pans (9-inch) and line with wax paper.  Grease the paper and flour the pans. Prepare three mixtures which will become the batter.  Combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl and use a fork to mix them together well.  Combine the vanilla with the buttermilk.  Mix the cocoa and red food coloring in a small bowl, and stir until it makes a smooth paste.

With a mixer in a larger bowl, beat the butter at a low speed for 1 minute until creamy and soft.  Add the sugar and then beat for 3-4 minutes scraping every few minutes. Add the eggs one by one, beating after each until the mixture is creamy and smooth.  Scrape the cocoa-food coloring paste into the batter and mix evenly.

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and then half of the milk, beating the batter with a mixer at low speed, and mixing only enough for for the flour and liquid to disappear.  Mix in another 1/3 of the flour, the rest of the milk, and then the last of the flour in the same way.

In another bowl, combine the baking soda and vinegar, stirring well.  Quickly mix this mixture into the red batter, folding it in gently by hand.  Pour the batter into the cake pans.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, until the layers no longer jiggle in the middle.  Cool the cakes in the pans on wire racks for 15 minutes and then turn them out on the racks or on plates, remove the paper and turn top side up to cool.

Ice with your favorite Red Velvet compliment–we chose a rich cream cheese icing. Place on layer on a cake plate and ice the top.  Place the 2nd layer on top of the first and ice the top and then sides of both.

After icing the cake, refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer to help the icing set.

The Bibliography: Southern Cakes: Sweet & Irresistible Recipes for Everyday Celebrations by Nancie McDermott

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4 Years on the 8th

4 Year of Happy Times with him.

I harassed Andrew enough that he took his yearly picture indicating our years of wedded bliss.  As a result, the cell phone wallpaper has been set for the year.

When we got married my Daddy was gracious enough to lend us his birthday for the occasion.  This year we celebrated his day with a family trip to see his favorite movie series of all time–007. The family went together for the first time since one of the Home Alone movies I’m pretty sure.  He was a happy man.

Consider his happy picture inserted here.  I’m fairly certain that the one we took of him at the end of the weekend is not one he would want on the world wide web.

Now on to the beginning of the fifth year…..


The Farmer & The Box

The Produce Box delivery is every Wednesday.  Wednesday is quickly climbing to be a favorite day of the week somewhat like Saturday and Sunday although it has no chance of getting really close due to the 8-5 gig.

There are many reasons to like The Produce Box but for the sake of brevity here are 4.  1. I have fresh seasonal veggies weekly. 2. Our grocery bill has been pretty much cut in half so I do a little frugal happy dance every week. 3. I cook with vegetables (and this week fruits–thank you persimmon) I’ve never used.  4. I try new recipes instead of sticking to just my “tried & true” box.

A little change to a James Farmer recipe

Here’s one of the new recipes I tried in an attempt to use all of my squash.  I received A Time to Plant from my parents last year for Christmas and thought it was a book related only to ornamental vegetation but was pleasantly surprised to find that recipes are sprinkled throughout.  One was Mr. Farmer’s Squash Spoonbread.

It was a nice try at getting Andrew to eat squash in another form than the 1 he will eat.  I always use the test of “does he eat it as soon as it comes out of the oven” which he did in this instance, going back several time.  I added green chiles to the dish and was able to persuade him a little more with the promise of the dish have the slightest “kick” to it–that might have been a slight stretch.

With the sausages and salad it pretty much made the “comfort” meal that has been a theme lately.  Looking forward to tomorrow and what the box will bring.


3 c. shredded squash

1 small Vidalia onion or 1/2 a large onion, shredded

pinch of salt

pinch of black pepper

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 package corn bread mix

1/2 c. Bisquick

3/4 c. all-purpose flour

2 large eggs

1 stick butter, melted

*I added one small can diced green chiles

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine the squash and onion with dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs together and then combine them with the above mixture. Slowly stir in the butter.  Pour this mixture into a greased 9×13 baking dish or into 2 pie pans sprayed with cooking oil.  Bake for about 20 minutes, watching after 15 minutes until it reaches the desired consistency.

The Bibliography: A Time to Plant by James T. Farmer III

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Hurricane Dinner

Sandy brought dreary weather and the need for comfort food–I feel a few pounds of hibernation weight coming on as the temps continue to drop.  Very thankful that we’re on the outskirts of the hurricane’s reach and we’ve got the power to cook these.

These are the best Stuffed Peppers EVER and can be made ahead.  The recipe from Real Simple calls for beef, but we always go with black beans and extra corn.

So while Sandy continues to bring rain and wind outside, we’ll continue to stuff ourselves with peppers.


1 c. long grain white rice

1 Tbsp. olive oil

6 scallions, thinly sliced, white & green parts separated (I’ve used regular onions as well)

1/2 lb. ground beef chuck (substitute black beans)

1 c. frozen corn

1 4.5 oz. can chopped green chiles

1 tsp. ground cumin

4 oz. (1 c.) Monterey Jack, grated (I’ve used cheddar cheese)

kosher salt & black pepper

4 large bell peppers, halved lengthwise, ribs and seeds removed

1/2 c. plain low-fat Greek yogurt

Salsa for serving

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Cook the rice according to package directions.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the scallion whites and beef (or black beans) and cook, breaking the beef up with a spoon until no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes.  Stir in corn, chilies, cumin, cooked rice, 1/2 c. of the Monterey Jack, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper.

Arrange the bell peppers, cut side up, in a 9×13 baking dish.  Divide the beef mixture among the bell peppers, add 1/2 c. water to the dish, tightly cover the dish with foil, and bake until the bell peppers are soft, 30 to 40 minutes.  Uncover, sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 c. of Monterey Jack, and bake until browned, 5 to 7 minutes more.

In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt and 1/4 c. water. Drizzle over the bell peppers and top with the salsa and scallion greens.

The Bibliography: Real Simple Magazine, February 2012

Richmond Folk

We joined Richmond folk and visitors for the Richmond Folk Festival a few weeks ago.  It’s a great FREE festival in Richmond that lasted for 3 days, one of which we graced with our presence iPhone in hand.

The Music

We arrived in time for the Roseanne Cash along with half of Richmond (it seemed).  When we turned around we saw:

And trying to see Roseanne:

Roseanne was followed by many, many other acts.  One of the great things about the festival is that most of the acts perform multiple times throughout the weekend and you can easily (depending on the crowd) move from stage to stage to take them all in.  My favorites were Rockabilly (50s/60s rock) and Super Chikan and the Fighting Cocks (Delta Blues).

The Folks

My favorite folks of the festival were these guys (plus Janet who I didn’t capture with the phone).  Of course this picture didn’t come so easily.

It started like this. I think it says “who do you think you are?” or “whyya gotta take another picture?” or “Yes, we are the plainclothes plaid Patagonia security force.”

And then progressed to….”Can’t you see why the girls think I’m so cute?”

The father figure had to insert himself in order to straighten up the picture.  He then made it possible for me to get the greatest picture of the entire weekend.  I’m guessing if he ever reads this blog it could be a point of contention for us but it is posted with love.

The Food

Food vendors bordered most sections of the festival and included Indian, Mexican, Cajun, Kettle Corn, Gyros, Beer, Wine, and everything in between.  My many thanks should go to Mrs. Frances Davis and her fried apple pies. They were a highlight for me and so good that I didn’t take any pictures before eating it all.  It also came with the recipe which I covet more than the apple pies.  Sadly, I can’t find a link to the recipe anywhere online so I’m hesitant to post it.  Guess the only recipes given out will be to those who attend the festival next year.

Meeting a Richmond Celebrity

After we had recovered from the 8 hours of music, art, portable toilets, kettle corn, grassy hills with kids rolling down, and lot of people in general (think cattle call at times), we went to Joe’s Inn for their Sunday brunch.  The brunch was good (note to self–whole post devoted to sweet potato hashbrowns) but the best part was when I looked up and realized that the family sitting across the aisle from us were none other than the Petersiks!  I’ve often wondered what I would do if I met them since we go to Richmond every once in a while.  Now I know that there is first a wave of shock, and then several minutes of covert staring to make sure it’s them followed by a little bit of silence as I figure out what to say while not saying anything to my brunch companions for fear that our whole table would turn around and stare. When I finally worked up the nerve, it all came out a little too “OMG I love your blog” but they were extremely nice and didn’t seem to mind their Sunday morning family time being interrupted.  So, nice folks in Richmond all around.

And to close it out (and jump back to the festival), a little bit of Richmond art along the beautiful James riverwalk.  Obviously, James has beauty but possibly a slight offense to the nose.  We didn’t notice though and kept strolling.

Until next year folks.